Dear Doctor: I read somewhere that hot tea can be used to treat smelly feet. I usually take tea after every three hours but there has been no change for the last three months. Do I need to take more?
Joseph Kamurasi Ibin
Dear Joseph: Foot odour is caused by a breakdown of foot bacteria left to accumulate on the feet. Sometimes, a fungal infection between the toes or bacterial foot infection can cause the odour. Unchanged socks or shoes, which hold on to the sweat, bacteria and fungus, make it worse.
Sweat itself has no smell but when excessive, it accumulates on the skin, which will inevitably be broken down by skin bacteria leading to a repugnant smell. This is one reason why it is important to maintain proper foot hygiene.
Keep your toenails trimmed, soaking the feet in salted water or tea for at least 30 minutes (tea contains tannic acid, which apart from drying out the feet, can inhibit growth of germs) and properly drying them thoroughly can remove foot odour. If these measures fail, visit a doctor.
Drinking tea is good but it does not work on foot odour. A cup of hot tea every three hours is likely to increase body sweat, including the feet risking more odour. Foot odour, just like any smell, after a while, will not be detected by the victim’s nose, and as such may not be aware of the odour, requiring asking a sincere friend whether it still exists or not.
Dear Doctor: I don’t know if you have heard of a disease called ekigalanga. I was told I had it and that is why my stomach keeps rumbling, and has pain. They even said I will not get pregnant. Is it also true one can die when infected with the traditional disease of numbers?
Dear Rashida: It is a common belief that due to witchcraft, women apart from being barren, may have lots of air in the abdomen and of course, a swollen and painful abdomen. This array of symptoms called kigalanga is said to be a traditional disease with traditional cures. It is likely that the abdominal pain is caused by infections in the fallopian tubes leading to their blockage and associated infertility.
Lots of abdominal gas though may result from other causes, including peptic ulcers and air swallowing (aerophagy) related to anxiety and stress following lack of offspring. As the gas moves in the intestines, it creates the familiar rumbling noise (boborygmy). Apart from the gas causing abdominal swelling, fibroids, resulting from taking long to get pregnant, may also lead to abdominal swelling. So there is no magic about ekigalanga, rather please visit a doctor (gynaecologist) for checking and management.
There is no traditional disease of numbers but rather some idle people spreading rumours that it exists and claiming that tying a palm tree leaf around the right arm prevents the disease from attacks and causing death. This should also be true in case one has an anxiety disorder and is scared to meet women, people in authority, the clergy and others who may seem to be superior.
Dear Doctor: Back in our schooldays, some pupils, especially the females, would urinate during examinations especially, maths. Why was it happening? Does it still happen to girls because women’s urine system is weak?
Dear Mike: It is not true that women have a weak urinary system. What is true is that women, because of a shorter urethra, may suffer more than men from urinary tract infections. Urinating during examinations indicates lack of control of urine called incontinence. Stress incontinence is an involuntary loss of urine that occurs during minor physical activity, including laughing, coughing, sneezing, or exercise.
Stress urinary incontinence is more common in women, especially over 75 years of age, those who have had several twins (nalongos) or many natural deliveries in life or had genital prolapse. It is likely this is what you refer to as being “due to women’s weaker urinary system”.
Urine produced by the kidneys is stored in the urinary bladder until one releases it. The bladder has a muscle which contracts to expel urine through the urethra which at the beginning has a tap-like musculature called a sphincter.
As the bladder swells with urine, the person senses fullness and if not ready to pass urine will hold it back by voluntarily contracting the sphincter. When it is safe to pass urine, the individual relaxes the sphincter while contracting the bladder muscle leading the urine to flow out.
Fear for any reason, including examinations, will just open the sphincter with urine coming out uncontrollably. It is unlikely that it is because the girls urinary systems are weak, the reason they more than boys pass urine uncontrollably during examinations.
It is likely that girls fear examinations, especially mathematics, more than boys with fright opening the sphincter muscle when not required. Today, however, more women are taking up mathematics than ever before and maybe there is less fear for mathematics and involuntary voiding of urine that used to follow this fear.
Dear Doctor: I have been married for the last 11 months but my wife has not conceived, yet we regularly have sex. She does not use any family planning method and both of us are normal. What could be the problem and when is the right timing? I am worried.
Dear Robert: I do not know what you mean by “both of us are normal”. Did you do fertility checks and were found without a problem likely to cause infertility or do both of you have no problems regarding your sex lives?
What is true is that you may relate well sexually but not get offspring because virility and fertility are two different issues. Forty per cent of infertility in couples is due to a man’s fertility problem and 40 per cent due to a woman’s problem. Ten per cent may be due to an unfavourable union of the couple and the other 10 per cent may result from non-medical factors where a couple is medically fit but still do not have children.
If a couple has regular unprotected sex for one year when they are not using any contraception they will be said to be sub-fertile. However, couples get concerned that they may have a fertility problem much earlier than a year. It is advisable to seek medical attention when this happens. Ideally, a gynaecologist should be visited by both the man and the woman.
Each couple may have their own timing of fertility because this may, in most cases, be determined by a woman’s menstrual cycle. That said, unprotected sex three times a week, a day or two after periods and keeping stress out of the home is recommended for a couple trying to have a child.